Rumours about Declan Rice’s career are nothing new and with a transfer window fast approaching, reports around his future are once again circulating.
According to The Times, Manchester City are now weighing up a move for the 22-year-old if their captain Fernandinho decides he does not have another 12 months in his at Premier League level.
The report claims that Pep Guardiola is a fan of the defensive midfielder and has extensive knowledge of Rice thanks to the Manchester City Under-23 coach Enzo Maresca’s spell as assistant to Manuel Pellegrini during his time as Hammers manager.
City are not the only club to be linked to the England international, with Manchester United also reportedly keen, and Rice has been reported to have questioned the likes of Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw about the club while on national team duty.
Any bid for Rice will have to be in excess of £100million, according to David Moyes, for it to even be considered. With the West Ham boss claiming on more than one occasion it would take ‘Bank of England money’ for the England international to be prised away from the London Stadium.
There has never been any suggestion from Rice himself in public that he wishes to leave the Hammers but the vice-captain has made it clear where his ambitions lie.
“To have that Champions League music playing, that’s where I want to be,” he told BBC’s MOTDx.
The good news for West Ham fans is that Rice was talking about getting there with the Hammers, not with another club, claiming that a top-four finish this season would be “the best” achievement of his career to date.
Rice added that the party afterwards would be well worth the sacrifice it has taken to get the club into this position.
“I could imagine the night out after with the lads, just the buzz of the fact that we’d had all the hard work, everything we’d put in, every training session and I think, you know, we deserve it,” he said.
West Ham are currently fifth, three points behind Chelsea in fourth and a top-four finish is out of their hands for now but that has not changed Rice’s ambition for his club.
“It’s special, I can’t really describe it to be honest,” he said. “As a kid it’s your dream, first of all to play in the Premier League, but to be competing for the Champions League [as well].
“You know West Ham, people say (we’re) a midtable club and last three seasons we’ve been battling relegation. But this, what we’re doing now, has always been there. It was just about when. We’re on fire.
“We’re on course to have West Ham’s best ever season in the Premier League. That in itself is an achievement and the fans are buzzing. There’s a great chance that we are going to get some sort of European spot.”
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As Rice pointed out, the Hammers are in a fantastic position to play in Europe next season but both he and his manager are aiming for ‘the big one’ and have four games left to turn the dream into reality.
Kevin Nolan described the final eight games of the season as ‘cup finals’, West Ham are four games into that run of fixtures and after a couple of slips against Newcastle and Chelsea got back to winning ways versus Burnley 2-1 on Monday night.
They have played their ‘cup finals without Rice due to injury but are hoping the midfielder will be back in action on Sunday against Everton or at least for their final three matches of the season, starting with Brighton away on Saturday, 15 May.